Santa sailing into the harbor at Parkers’ Lighthouse, waving to more than 100 children on the dock who are eager to meet him and tell him their Christmas wish lists.

Santa Claus normally travels by a reindeer-pulled sleigh, but when he comes to Long Beach, he bids farewell to Rudolph and companions at the North Pole, opting for a yacht instead. Santa arrived at Parkers’ Lighthouse in Long Beach on Saturday, Dec. 2 to have breakfast with MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach pediatric patients and supporting families from the community.

To bring holiday joy to the Long Beach community and support children hospitalized during the holiday season, Parkers’ Lighthouse hosted its 17th annual “Breakfast with Santa” last Saturday. This event generates funds for the Cherese Mai Laulhere Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, with 100 percent of the proceeds from the event going to Miller Children’s & Women’s. Additionally, Parkers’ Lighthouse gathers unwrapped gifts to help brighten the spirit of patients who are hospitalized on Christmas Day.

“Through the generosity of Parkers’ Lighthouse, Child Life Specialists are able to bring the holiday spirit to our patients and provide exciting toys and gifts to help make the hospital experience just a little bit easier,” said Rita Goshert, director, Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program. “Breakfast with Santa nurtures holiday cheer that profoundly enhances the well-being and happiness of children undergoing hospital care, as well as uplifting the spirits of the entire community.”

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach was developed to help make the hospital experience a more positive one for children of all ages. Child Life Specialists help to cultivate an environment for patients and families that is fun, engaging and child friendly – especially during the holiday season. It’s through generous partnerships and gifts from the community that Child Life Specialists can continue providing exciting events, toys and gifts to children to help make hospitalization easier.

As Santa made his way around each dining room inside Parkers’ Lighthouse, many children wished for Barbie dolls, princess dresses, superhero figurines and Lego sets. When he paused and asked one young girl in particular, Mia, what she wanted for Christmas, her response touched every heart in the room.

“I would like to get a giant Santa plushie for Christmas,” shared Mia. “That way I can get hugs from you all year long.”

Joyful moments: Little girl embraces the magic of the season, hugging Santa tightly, as her beaming mom watches with delight.